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Jeb Bush's Team Signals 2016 White House Bid

 Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's closest advisers have been quietly telling GOP strategists and fundraisers that they should refrain from making any commitments to other candidates until after the November elections, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The intention, according to the newspaper, is to prevent potential supporters from assuming Bush will not enter the race after speculation this summer that he was leaning against a bid.

"It's frozen the field a bit, in that it's a convenient excuse for finance people to stay neutral and wait to commit," GOP strategist Dave Carney, a top adviser to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's 2012 campaign, told the Journal.

Bush is currently considered the establishment's top choice in a wide field of potential candidates, though 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has also recently attracted attention as a possible leading candidate.

"It's not like Jeb would walk into the race and clear the field, but his gravitas and fundraising network makes him a first-class competitor," Carney said.

According to the Journal, Bush's team is not proactively making calls but responding to inquiries from supporters who are being courted by other potential candidates.

"There is no organized effort to actively recruit support for a presidential campaign. He is seriously considering the race and will make a decision sometime after November," Sally Bradshaw, a top Bush aide, told the Journal.

Bush's son, Jeb Bush Jr., said that while a possible run has not come up at family gatherings, it's "the 800-pound gorilla in the room."

"A lot of people are waiting to see what Dad does," Bush Jr. told the Journal. "There's a lot of pressure to run."

Jim Nicholson, a Bush supporter and former member of former President George W. Bush's cabinet, told the Journal, "I think the chances are better than 50-50 that he runs, and that is based on some conversations I've had with members of the Bush family."

Bush has spent the last few months traveling the country, engaging in public policy debates, and raising money for 2014 GOP candidates, some of whom are in states that would be key to securing the 2016 nomination.

Jeb Bush meets with major Wall Street donors to prepare for potential 2016 presidential run

The former Florida governor quietly met with Wall Street executives on Monday in a Manhattan bank to lay down the necessary ground work for a run by lining up donors. It was his fifth visit to the city since June.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is quietly meeting with major Wall Street donors in New York to line up financial backing for a potential 2016 presidential run, people familiar with his plans said.

A finance industry executive said Bush was at a downtown Manhattan bank Monday, his fifth visit to the city since June. The source declined to name the bank, saying the sitdown was confidential.

Bush has said he is considering a run, and supporters, including his younger brother, former President George W. Bush, say Jeb is undecided.

“Governor Bush has not made a decision whether or not to run for President in 2016,” said Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell.

Bush will “make a decision at the end of this year or the beginning of next,” she said.

But in the meantime Bush, a pragmatic pol favored by big business and establishment Republicans, is laying down the necessarily groundwork for a run by lining up donors. That move that may keep them from committing to other potential GOP candidates.

A person close to the ex-governor acknowledged his frequent travel to New York this year but said it was partly driven by his work helping 2014 GOP candidates raise money.

The person played down Bush's contacts with potential donors to his own campaign.

"He kind of runs into folks," the person said. "It's not uncommon for him to be meeting with people he met in the business world and find out they are donors. It overlaps."

It is Republican donors who have been reaching out to Bush, seeking "for a year, year and half," to feel him out on his plans, said the source.

But the finance industry official described an aggressive effort by Bush backers to court likely donors.

In sitdowns held in downtown Manhattan boardrooms, "they are putting together these meetings with big Wall Streeters to talk about lots of issues including, but not exclusive to, business," the source said.

"He's been having these secret visits with guys who can write six and seven-figure checks."

Other issues discussed include tax reform, the Keystone XL pipeline and immigration reform, the source said.

Bush, in a position embraced by big business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, supports comprehensive immigration reform.

All the meetings have included 10 to 16 Wall Street executives, some of them major donors to the party, the industry official said.

People who have attended the sessions say Bush is not saying if he will run for President, but is working to assure money is there if he announces.

While Democrats wait for an expected presidential run by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Bush faces what looks to be a crowded field of contenders for the 2016 GOP nomination.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is all-but declared candidate. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are eyeing runs, as is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. All would run to the right of Bush.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a potential contender who could battle Bush for the role as the front runner among more moderate, business-friendly Republicans.

With Annie Karni, and Dan Friedman reporting from Washington, D.C.

All signs point to Jeb Bush prepping for

2016 presidential run

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush attends a Long Island Association luncheon in Woodbury, N.Y.

It's looking more and more like the 2016 presidential race will include John Ellis "Jeb" Bush, the former governor of Florida and a favorite of centrist Wall Street Republicans.

Bush, who friends say will make a final decision after the November midterm elections, is said to be deep in preparation on issues beyond his traditional areas of focus on education and immigration policy.

One person who met with Bush recently told me the former governor spoke passionately on foreign policy and economics and sounded very much like someone who plans to mount a presidential campaign. This person said Bush's main concern remains the impact of a campaign on his family, particularly his wife Columba, who does not like politics or the limelight.

And even if Columba Bush manages to tolerate a campaign, people close the family ask, could she accept the public role demanded of first ladies?

But others say the family concerns are overblown and that barring a late change of heart, Bush is almost certain to run. These people say Bush's father, former president George H.W. Bush, strongly urged his son to mount a campaign at a recent gathering at the family's compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

People close to the family say Jeb Bush does not want to see New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dominate the moderate lane in 2016. Bush also does not believe Mitt Romney will mount another campaign and believes the nomination of someone like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., would produce an electoral disaster for Republicans akin to the 1964 wipeout of GOP nominee Barry Goldwater.

As Mike Allen reports in Tuesday's Politico Playbook, Bush plans a heavy travel schedule for GOP candidates this fall including hot Senate races in North Carolina and Kansas. Bush has also done heavy fundraising for GOP candidates and the party over the summer. He also will host an event Tuesday night at his home in Tampa, Florida, for GOP senate candidates Tom Cotton of Arkansas; Joni Ernst of Iowa; Cory Gardner of Colorado; Dan Sullivan of Alaska; and Monica Wehby of Oregon.

All of the fundraising activity makes it seems very much like Bush is putting together a network of support for a bid in 2016 that could see him square off in a general election against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Such a Bush-Clinton race would harken back to the 1992 campaign between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, a fact some reject as tired dynasty politics and others see as a possibly edifying campaign of ideas between party heavyweights.

But even if Jeb Bush does run he is certainly not guaranteed the nomination. Candidates such as Christie and possibly others will fight hard in the establishment, Wall Street-friendly lane. And Bush will get all he can handle and possibly more from the likes of Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who excite the party's conservative activist base and could score early primary and caucus wins. Bush's friend Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., could also seek to unify disparate wings of the party and present a fresher face for the general election.

And unlike in 2012, when Romney could simply wait out conservative flavor-of-the-week candidates, whoever emerges from that pack in 2016 will almost certainly have the financial backing to compete all the way through the primary season. That means if Jeb Bush runs, he will have to run all-out and be prepared for a nasty dog fight and not expect gentle coronation.

 Jeb Bush Midterm Fundraising Stokes Talk of 2016 Bid

While political prognosticators are focused on whether Jeb Bush will run for president in 2016, the former Florida governor is concentrating on a busy schedule of fundraising and campaigning on behalf of Republican candidates across the nation.

On Tuesday, Bush helped raise an estimated $750,000 for five Republican Senate candidates, including Cory Gardner of Colorado, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Monica Wehby of Oregon, Tom Cotton of Arkansas – all of whom travelled to Florida for the event, reports The Tampa Bay Times.

Dan Sullivan, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Begich, opted to remain in Alaska to campaign.

The fundraiser was coordinated through Floridians for a Senate Majority, a joint fundraising committee, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"I think of [Floridians for a Senate Majority] as a fan club and a team that would be ready to work on behalf of his presidential campaign if he decides to run," Jorge Arrizurieta, a longtime supporter of Bush, told The Wall Street Journal.

"If the event is successful, that will be helpful to him as a potential presidential candidate, but the objective is to make sure Republicans are successful in the current election cycle," he added.

Similar fundraising events were held earlier this month in Chicago and in Coral Gables, Florida, according to the Journal.

Reflective of the busy scheduled he is maintaining in the six weeks before the November 4 elections, Bush was on the campaign trail with North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, who is locked in a tight race with Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

"The minute anybody has a good idea in the House or in the Senate, it goes into [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid’s desk drawer. No ideas are debated any more in the United States Senate." Bush told a crowd at a Greensboro, North Carolina warehouse, reports Roll Call.

It was Bush's second trip to the state on behalf of Tillis.

Although his trip was intended to boost support for Tillis, the visit also highlighted several issues where Bush differs from the conservative base of the party.

"Standing alongside Thom Tillis, the North Carolina House speaker and Republican Senate candidate, Mr. Bush outlined his views on two of the issues he cares most passionately about: immigration policy and education standards," reports The New York Times.

As speculation about a potential presidential campaign swirls around Bush, he downplayed the talk and insisted that his busy campaign schedule is not new.

“I’ve done this every election cycle, when I was governor and post my governorship. I guess because of the speculation, no one really cared back then, and now it’s a bigger deal," he told The New York Times.

 Fight With Unions May Benefit Jeb Bush

A longstanding rift between former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and teachers unions could be a boon to a potential campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

The latest tensions appeared last week at the annual conference of his educational think tank, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, in Washington, D.C.

In his speech on Thursday, Mr. Bush referred to public school systems as “13,000 government-run, unionized and politicized monopolies who trap good teachers, administrators and struggling students in a system nobody can escape.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers posted a blistering response late Friday on the union’s web site.

“He says he wants to break up so-called ‘monopolies’ of public education, forgetting that public education is a public good, a moral imperative and a constitutional mandate in many of this country’s states, including Florida,” Ms. Weingarten wrote.

Battles with organized labor are viewed as a badge of honor by many conservative Republicans and could help protect Mr. Bush, should he run for president, from attacks from the right over Common Core, the national education standards that Mr. Bush supports and which many conservatives within the GOP oppose. Mr. Bush also supports a broad overhaul of immigration law that is unpopular with the GOP base.

Republican Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who are also weighing White House bids in 2016, have used their skirmishes with teachers unions to help build national profiles and raise money from out-of-state conservative groups.

“Jeb Bush has taken on big issues like education reform that have put him at odds with teachers’ unions on a fairly regular basis, and I think it will be important for people to be reminded of that record if he enters the presidential race,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union.

As governor of Florida from 1999 to 2006, Mr. Bush tangled repeatedly with unions over his efforts to link teacher pay and job security to test results, as well as to award grades to schools based on their tests scores, to expand charter schools and to give private school vouchers to struggling public-school students. After leaving office, he advocated those policies across the country as leader of the foundation.

In Florida, the teachers’ union is suing the state over a voucher program started by Mr. Bush and which was expanded after he left office. Under the program, companies donate money for private-school scholarships for poor children in exchange for tax credits. Many participants attend religious schools.

The teachers’ union says the program violates the state constitution by diverting money from public schools to religious institutions.

A graduate of the voucher program, Denisha Merriweather, who introduced Mr. Bush on Thursday, told the audience, “It disheartens me to see school districts and teachers’ unions attacking it with lawsuits…. I implore you to stand up for children who don’t have the power to stand up for themselves.”

Common Core has become another source of tension between the former governor and teachers’ unions. Mr. Bush supports the math and reading benchmarks for each grade level and wants teachers to be held accountable for results of tests measuring whether students are meeting those benchmarks. Teachers’ unions initially supported the standards but have raised concerns that educators haven’t had enough input or received enough time and resources to implement them.

On Thursday, Mr. Bush called the debate over Common Core “troubling” and added, “I respect those who have weighed in on all sides of this issue. Nobody in this debate has a bad motive.” His remarks appeared to be aimed at conservatives who oppose Common Core, in some cases objecting to Obama administration efforts to distribute federal grants to states that adopt the standards, which they call a form of federal overreach.

Responding to Mr. Bush’s remarks, Ms. Weingarten fired back: “It’s interesting that [Mr. Bush] maintains respect for those in his party who disagree with him while continuously disrespecting the professionals working hard to implement these standards in classrooms across the country.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Bush, Jaryn Emhof, said of Ms. Weingarten’s criticism: “This is just another attack from an entrenched education establishment more concerned about protecting the status quo than providing parents and students with quality education options.”

The American Federation of Teachers has partnered with a government watchdog group called In the Public Interest that has criticized education and testing companies that advocate for Common Core and stand to profit from the implementation of the standards. Mr. Bush’s foundation is a focus of the criticism, because it receives money from the for-profit education industry while advocating for Common Core. Foundation officials say sponsors have no influence over its policy decisions. 

Jeb Bush's Swipe at Teachers' Unions May Build 2016 Appeal

Monday, 24 Nov 2014 11:03 AM

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has picked a fight with teachers' unions about the state of the public school system, launching a new broadside that could delight the GOP's conservative base in advance of the 2016 presidential election.

The recent tensions broke out last week after Bush delivered a speech at the annual conference of his educational think tank, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In a speech, Bush referred to public school systems as "13,000 government-run unionized and politicized monopolies who trap good teachers, administrators, and struggling students in a system nobody can escape."

The comments sparked anger from the American Federation of Teachers, whose president, Randi Weingarten, shot back saying, "He says he wants to break up so-called 'monopolies' of public education, forgetting that public education is a public good, a moral imperative, and a constitutional mandate in many of the country's states, including Florida," the Journal reported.

Bush's recent comments could curry favor with the conservative base in advance of a presidential bid, potentially countering their dislike of his positions on other issues, such as his support for the Common Core standards and immigration reform.

"Jeb Bush has taken on big issues like education reform that have put him at odds with teachers unions on a fairly regular basis, and I think it will be important for people to be reminded of that record if he enters the presidential race," Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, told the Journal.

The latest clash resurrects tensions from 1999-2006, his years as governor of Florida. Bush repeatedly fought with unions on a range of issues, including linking teacher pay and job security to test results, awarding grades to schools based on their test scores, expanding charter schools, and giving private school vouchers to students struggling in public schools.

 Since leaving office, he has become an advocate for those policies through his foundation.

Meanwhile, his voucher policy is being challenged in court by the teachers unions, which say the program unlawfully diverts money from public schools to religious institutions.

Bush has also tried to be more conciliatory toward conservatives who oppose his position on the Common Core.

He said Thursday, in his first major speech since the midterm elections, that states and local communities should have the flexibility to design their own programs with federal dollars, but that the Common Core should represent new "minimum standards" for America's classrooms. 

"I respect those who have weighed in on all sides of this issue. Nobody in this debate has a bad motive," he said.

Weingarten criticized the remarks, according to the Journal, saying, "It's interesting that [Bush] maintains respect for those in his party who disagree with him, while continuously disrespecting the professionals working hard to implement these standards in classrooms across the country."

A spokeswoman for Bush, Jaryn Emhof, characterized the criticism as "Just another attack from an entrenched education establishment more concerned about protecting the status quo than providing parents and students with quality education options."

 A.B. Stoddard: Jeb stalling in neutral

Guess who isn’t running for president? Jeb Bush. Just listen to him.

The GOP presidential race is frozen until the former Florida governor makes his decision, and he sounds like a man ready to run for the hills. Asked about his thinking this week, Bush was blunt: “It’s a big sacrifice because it’s a pretty ugly business right now,” he said.

 In addition, Bush has not abandoned or amended his support for immigration reform and Common Core education standards, and both are deal-breakers with the far right. Though he said he knows how a Republican can win — a candidate must be more “uplifting” and “positive,” and willing to “lose the primary to win the general” without violating your principles” — Bush conceded, “It’s not an easy task, to be honest with you.” He wondered aloud if he could “lift people’s spirits and not get sucked into the vortex.”

Voices on the right are growing louder, hoping to drive him from the race. Conservative talk show host Mark Levin recently called Bush “a very good moderate Democrat,” while conservative activist Richard Viguerie said he doesn’t know of any conservatives who are supporting Bush.

Bush’s viability has always focused on this question: Did the party move past the divisive issue of immigration, after Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss to President Obama, when he won only 27 percent of Latino support to Obama’s 71 percent? And the answer is no. After much hand-wringing about the impact of GOP opposition to immigration reform, and the burgeoning influence of Latino votes on the path to 270 electoral votes, the GOP is more divided over the issue now than it was in 2012. 

Sure, many important Republican leaders want reform. But can Bush count on the desire of Speaker John Boehner, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the Wall Street Journal editorial board and Karl Rove to help attract conservatives to a bill that goes far enough to neutralize this issue against a Democrat appealing to larger Latino electorate in 2016? Nope. Those Republicans want a broad bill, but the new GOP majorities are only more opposed to reform, not less. And the president’s executive order on immigration, as well as the recent border crisis, makes it more difficult, not less.

Two years after the party’s last standard-bearer supported “self-deportation,” any GOP 2016 hopeful knows an even faint defense of deferred deportations or legalization, even temporary, would be painted as amnesty and derided by activists who influence the outcomes in key presidential primary states. Not only did Bush not criticize the substance of Obama’s executive order (deferring deportations, providing entitlement benefits and work permits to undocumented immigrants), he urged the party to see immigration “as an economic tool for sustained growth.” He hardly sounds like a man who is busy behind closed doors trying to convince donors he can overcome the condemnation from Rush Limbaugh and Levin.

Bush has thought about running. Frankly, as a Bush, it is his duty when party stalwarts plead with him to save the party and rescue the country to say, yes, it would be his honor to consider the mission. But he knows more than any candidate, save for Hillary Clinton, who has run her own campaign and was spouse in two, how awful running for president can be. He saw his father and brother each do it twice, followed by what happened once they served as president as well. 

People who run for president burn for the prize, focus only on the outcome, so what keeps them going once they realize it’s a buzz saw is drive. Bush has seen the vortex up close, and he doesn’t sound the least bit driven.

Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.


George Bush: My record won’t hurt Jeb run

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Former President George W. Bush says his own controversial time in office wouldn’t hurt his brother, Jeb Bush, if he runs in 2016.

Appearing on "Today," host Savannah Guthrie noted that, at one point, “it might have been a nonstarter to have a Bush on the ticket.”

 “I don’t think it has anything to do with me,” the former president said.

He added that both brothers anticipate criticism that the Bushes are seeking to build a political dynasty.

“And there’d be a lot of ‘too many Bushes.’ And he understands that. I understand that too,” he said. “Of course, they said that about me.”

Bush said this weekend that there was a “50-50” chance that his brother, a former Florida governor, would run for president — and that he hopes he will.

“I think in his soul he knows he can do the job,” he said Monday, adding, “if he chooses to run, he’d be a formidable force.”

The former president has been promoting a new biography of his father that he wrote. Bush has led a largely private life since leaving office, taking up painting and leading annual bike rides for wounded veterans.

He has also developed a relationship with former President Bill Clinton, who has his own interest in the 2016 presidential race. His wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is weighing her own bid.

Bush said that even if the campaign again pitted the Clintons and Bushes against one another, it wouldn’t affect his relationship with his predecessor.

“We’re too professional for that in a sense,” he said.


George W. Bush: Odds '50-50' Jeb runs


Former President George W. Bush said in an interview broadcast Sunday that chances are “50-50” that his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) will run for president in 2016.

“You know, it's a lot of speculation about him,” the former president said on “Face the Nation.” “I occasionally fuel the speculation by saying that I hope he runs. I think he'd be a very good president. I understand the decision making process pretty well. And I'm-- I-- you know, I know that he's wrestling with the decision.”

George W. Bush added that his brother is “not here knocking on my door, you know, agonizing about the decision.”

“He knows exactly -- you know, the ramifications on family, for example. He's seen his dad and his brother go through the presidency. I would give it-- I'd give it a toss up. I know this about Jeb. He is not afraid to succeed. In other words, I think he knows he could do the job. And nor is he afraid to fail.”

George W. Bush said his father, former President George H.W. Bush, taught the brothers that “you can go into politics and still be a good father.”

“In other words, the priorities of your life don't have to be compromised,” the former president said. “I know Jeb's priority is his family. A priority is his family. I also know it's his country. And his deep faith. And he has seen that you don't have to sell those out in order to be a politician.”

Monday, 01 Dec 2014 09:52 PM
Hinting that a decision on his presidential ambitions is coming "in short order," former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Monday condemned President Barack Obama's recent immigration order for going "way beyond" what other presidents have done — including Bush's own father.

Bush, the son of one president and brother of another, also reiterated his support for a pathway to legal status for immigrants in the U.S. illegally, but said Obama may have exceeded his constitutional authority by unilaterally lifting the threat of deportation from millions of such immigrants last month.
"The idea that, well, Reagan did it, my dad did it — they did it on a much smaller scale and they did it with consent of Congress. There are a lot of differences," Bush said Monday night at the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council, an invitation-only event in Washington featuring some of the nation's most powerful CEOs.

Obama's move "makes it harder" for Congress to adopt lasting immigration reform, Bush said, speaking publicly about the order for the first time. "It's a shame."

The former Florida governor is seen as the early favorite of business-minded Republicans eager to reclaim the White House in 2016. While he would be a force in the Republican presidential primary, Bush would face criticism from the party's conservative wing unhappy with his positions on immigration and education reform. Those who attended Monday's event, however, include many political donors and Republican business leaders who support a more forgiving immigration policy.

Bush was seen chatting with News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch, who has urged lawmakers to adopt a pathway to legal status for immigrants who are in the country illegally.

Two of the last three Republican presidents — Ronald Reagan and Bush's father, George H.W. Bush — also extended amnesty to family members of immigrants who were not covered by the last major overhaul of immigration law in 1986.

Obama's executive order has drawn a withering response from Republicans, but also has laid bare divisions within the GOP over how to deal with immigration. The issue is seen as critical for the GOP ahead of the in 2016 presidential contest as party officials works to attract more Hispanic voters.

Bush reiterated his interest in a presidential run on Monday.
"I'm thinking about running for president. And I'll make up my mind in short order — not that far out in the future," he said.

"I don't know if I'd be a good candidate or a bad one," Bush continued. "I kind of know how a Republican can win, whether it's me or somebody else, and it has to be much more uplifting, much more positive, much more willing to be practical..."

The comments come as Bush works this week to keep his public profile high.

Earlier in the day, he attended a C
apitol Hill fundraiser for Republican Senate hopeful Bill Cassidy, less than a week before Cassidy faces incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in a runoff election that could increase the GOP's new majority.

On Tuesday, immigration may come up again as Bush addresses the annual luncheon on U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC in Miami. The organization is a political action committee that advocates a tough stance on Cuba.

Bush, whose wife is Mexican, told the CEO Council that he supports a nation in which people ultimately find no need to identify their cultural origin.

"That is the America we should aspire to — not the one where we're dividing ourselves up to find where we are different," Bush said, "but the fact that you're from a different place or you've got a different origin is totally irrelevant."

 Jeb Bush: I Will 'Actively Explore' Run for President

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Tuesday took his most definitive step yet toward running for president, announcing plans to "actively explore" a campaign and form a new political operation allowing him to raise money for like-minded Republicans.

In a holiday message posted on Bush's Facebook page and Twitter account, the son and brother of past Republican presidents said he discussed the "future of our nation" and a potential bid for the White House with members of his family over the Thanksgiving holiday.

"As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for president of the United States," Bush wrote.

He added, "In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America."

Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for Bush, said he has not yet made a final decision on whether to seek the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2016. She said that he will announce his decision next year "after gauging support" for a run.

"This is a natural next step and represents a new phase of his consideration process," Campbell said.

That phase will include an expansion of Bush's political operations. He said Tuesday he will start his own leadership political action committee in January, which will allow him to raise money and use it to support candidates in other races.

In his statement, Bush said the committee "will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC's purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans."

Bush's announcement is sure to reverberate throughout Republican politics and begin to help sort out a field that includes more than a dozen potential candidates, none of whom have formally announced plans to mount a campaign.

Should he ultimately decide to run, Bush can tap into his family's vast political network and his campaign would attract strong support from the same donor pool that other establishment-minded Republicans — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie among them — need to fuel their own prospective campaigns.

A Bush candidacy also has the potential to affect the plans of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who came up through Florida politics as a strong Bush supporter and is considering whether to seek re-election to the Senate or run for president in 2016.

Tuesday's statement is the latest and most definitive signal that Bush plans to try and become the third member of his family to serve as president. In a TV interview this past weekend, he said he "would be a good president," disclosed that he was writing an e-book about his time as governor that would come out in the spring, and promised to release about 250,000 emails from his time in office.

During his two terms as Florida governor, Bush pushed for large tax cuts, overhauled Florida's education system and led the charge to eliminate race-based policies in college admissions and state spending.

Bush's announcement is sure to reverberate throughout Republican politics and begin to help sort out a field that includes more than a dozen potential candidates, none of whom have formally announced plans to mount a campaign.

Should he ultimately decide to run, Bush can tap into his family's vast political network and his campaign would attract strong support from the same donor pool that other establishment-minded Republicans — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie among them — need to fuel their own prospective campaigns.

A Bush candidacy also has the potential to affect the plans of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who came up through Florida politics as a strong Bush supporter and is considering whether to seek re-election to the Senate or run for president in 2016.

Tuesday's statement is the latest and most definitive signal that Bush plans to try and become the third member of his family to serve as president. In a TV interview this past weekend, he said he "would be a good president," disclosed that he was writing an e-book about his time as governor that would come out in the spring, and promised to release about 250,000 emails from his time in office.

During his two terms as Florida governor, Bush pushed for large tax cuts, overhauled Florida's education system and led the charge to eliminate race-based policies in college admissions and state spending. 


Jeb Bush’s Decision to Explore

Presidential Bid Scrambles the 2016 GOP

 In his most definitive step yet toward running for president, former Florida governor Jeb Bush told his followers on Facebook and Twitter he will “actively explore” a campaign. (AP)

 Jeb Bush’s announcement Tuesday that he is actively exploring a 2016 presidential run scrambles the large Republican field, thrusting him to the front of the pack and locking up a huge swath of longtime party fundraisers being wooed by other candidates.


Bush, Clinton and the Mixed Appeal of

Political Dynasties

Considering that the country got its start by shaking off a monarch, America has had a peculiarly strong attraction to political dynasties.

But it has never seen anything like the possibility that came into sharp focus Tuesday when Jeb Bush announced on Twitter that he is about to “actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.”

That instantly put the former Florida governor at the head of the pack chasing the 2016 Republican nomination.

It also raised the prospect that, for the second time in 24 years, a Bush may be battling a Clinton for the White House. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former secretary of state and first lady, is considered the odds-on favorite to get the Democratic nomination should she decide to run, as most expect she will.

A spokesman for Clinton declined to comment on Bush’s move with a pointed “No, thank you.”

So entrenched are these two families in presidential politics that Americans under the age of 38 have experienced only one national election — 2012 — in which there has been no Bush or Clinton running for president or vice president.

The relationship between the two clans has also been a complicated one — resentful and rivalrous at some points, warm and mutually beneficial at others.

While their famous last names are no doubt an enormous advantage, they carry some downsides, particularly at a time when both the Republicans and Democrats are engaged in a struggle that pits their ideological bases against their more centrist establishment wings.

The Bushes and Clintons “are like enduring franchises in American politics,” said David Axelrod, President Obama’s former chief strategist. “There are also burdens that come from these franchises. You’re not a brand-new car. Even if someone else put the dings in it, you’re still driving it.”

Or as then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush used to joke when he was running for president in 2000: “I inherited half my father’s friends and all his enemies.”

But being a Bush or a Clinton also brings with it instant name recognition, a national network of supporters and access to big money — all of which are more important in politics than ever, at least when it comes to getting a head start.

“I think we tend to become comfortable with what is familiar to us,” said former Ohio congressman and governor Ted Strickland, a Clinton supporter. He keeps a picture in his office of her taken in 1992, when she came to his congressional district to stump for her husband, then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, in his first campaign for the White House.




Jeb Emerges as Front-Runner

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush garners nearly one-quarter of Republican support in the race for the White House, according to the latest CNN poll. With 23 percent, Bush is 10 points ahead of Chris Christie, his closest rival.



Image: Politico: Jeb Bush Shakes Up 2016 Race With Aid of Family Network

 Politico: Jeb Bush Shakes Up 2016 Race With Aid of Family Network

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has captivated the political world and shaken up his potential presidential rivals in both parties by bursting out of the blocks as the presumed Republican frontrunner in the race for the White House.

In just one week, Bush set up a nationwide fundraising drive, started meeting with major donors, seemingly lampooned Hillary Clinton, signed up top GOP operatives for his campaign, and urged Americans to accept court rulings favoring gay marriage, according to Politico.

But possibly more important, he's also been busy energizing his famous family's powerful political network, created by his father, President George H.W. Bush, and then expanded by his brother, President George W. Bush.

"In part because he is perceived as a proud pragmatist and sometime moderate in a party that has grown increasingly conservative, Jeb Bush does not possess the power to effectively clear the field and lock up the GOP establishment that his brother … did in the run-up to his 2000 campaign," writes Politico's Todd Purdum.

"But Jeb Bush does have the immediate ability to tap the resources, expertise, loyalty and sharply honed political skills of the extended network of friends and advisers that has made his family a force in national life for more than 40 years."

After recently declaring that he was seriously considering a 2016 bid, Bush went right to work by creating two PACs, both called Right to Rise, which stunned his likely White House rivals and forced them into action.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a probable presidential candidate, tried to play catch-up in the race on Thursday when he slammed Bush in an interview, saying the ex-governor was ignoring the GOP's conservative base.
As an indication of the Bush family's extensive network, Jeb Bush was set up with a meet-and-greet this week with influential New Yorkers at the KKR & Co. leveraged buyout firm GOP stalwart, Politico reported.

The meeting was arranged by leading strategist GOP Ken Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Mark Wallace, his first "body man" as Florida governor who later served in senior posts in the second Bush administration.

Bush also found time to enlist Sal Purpura — a veteran campaign finance compliance expert who worked on Bush's first gubernatorial campaign in 1994 — as the assistant treasurer of his new leadership PAC, associates told the political news website.

"His announcement didn't just light up the wires, it torched 'em," said Mark McKinnon, the longtime political consultant and Bush family friend, about Bush's possible candidacy in 2016 and his two political action committees.

"To the extent there was any hesitation on the part of his prospective supporters, it was driven very much by perceived hesitation on his part," McKinnon told Politico. "By throwing down the gauntlet so forcefully, Jeb has instantly galvanized the extensive Bush network.
"By being first to market, he is scooping up financial support from those who may have gone another direction had he waited. And, most importantly, it demonstrates the most important thing a successful president must have: fire in the belly."

Image: Jeb Bush Expected to Release Decade of Tax Returns

 Jeb Bush Expected to Release Decade of Tax Returns

 Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is planning to disclose at least a decade of tax returns, another signal that he is laying the groundwork for a 2016 bid for the presidency, according to Politico, citing sources close to Bush.

The news comes just days after Bush announced the establishment of both a leadership political action committee and a super PAC called "Right to Rise."

The move is believed to be an attempt to head off the pressure and criticism 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney faced for initially refusing to release any of his tax returns, then subsequently releasing just two years worth of records. The disclosure may enable Bush to avoid characterizations that plagued Romney as an out-of-touch member of the wealthy elite.

Politico also said that the decision to release his tax records could also be part of a political strategy to set up a contrast with presumed Democrat candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who, with her husband, will have amassed wealth through the Clinton Foundation. Republicans are expected to push for disclosure not only of her personal finances but of the accounts of the organization, Politico said.

 "It's smart and the main advantage is that Jeb gets to be in control of the release of this information rather than having that control dictated by his opponents and the media," Kevin Madden, a strategist at Hamilton Place Strategies who served as a top adviser and spokesman for Romney in 2012, told Politico.

"You also have more certainty around it by putting it out there and telling the story and then it is not new information coming out later."

 No final plans have been made for the release of Bush's tax returns, Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell told Politico, but people close to Bush noted that he previously released over 20 years worth of tax returns as a candidate and governor of Florida.

"People forget that he spent eight years as governor in a state with the most pro-transparency laws in the country," a source close to Bush told Politico. "He is used to living in the sunshine. Most of the other likely candidates aren't."

Last month, Bush made a separate significant move toward transparency when he released 250,000 official emails from his tenure as governor from 1999-2007.

And in another sign that he is serious about making a bid, Bush resigned from all of his corporate and nonprofit board memberships, including his own education foundation, The Washington Post reported last month.

Democrats will likely pore over his financial dealings and accumulations since he left office, but his team says he has nothing to hide.

"There is no doubt that Jeb's business career will be heavily scrutinized in the coming months, as it should be," Jesse Lehrich, of the left-leaning American Bridge 21st Century, told Politico.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at a Economic Club of Detroit meeting in Detroit Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. The Detroit event is the first in a series of stops that Bush's team is calling his

Jeb Bush’s eye-popping event: $100K per ticket

NEW YORK — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will raise money on Wall Street on Wednesday at an eye-popping $100,000 per-ticket Park Avenue event hosted by private equity mogul Henry Kravis and his wife.

The price of admission to the event, which will raise funds for Bush’s “Right to Rise” super PAC, surprised even Wall Street veterans used to high-dollar fundraisers.

The event comes as Bush continues a shock and awe approach to early 2016 fundraising that people close to the campaign say could eventually see the former governor reach a total of between $50 million and $100 million between the super PAC, a traditional political action committee and an eventual presidential campaign.

Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell declined to comment on the price of the Kravis Kristy Campbell declined to comment on the price of the Kravis fundraiser, the second event the private equity titan has held for Bush.

“We don’t detail info on private finance events,” she said in an email. But two people familiar with the event confirmed the $100,000 amount.

“I shook my head when I heard the number,” one senior Wall Street executive who is not attending the event said on Tuesday. Another said the event would likely draw a significant crowd and would put Bush well on a path to raise over $50 million for the super PAC alone.

Bush is moving quickly to consolidate financial support in the wealthy enclaves of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, in many cases squeezing out New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. People familiar with the matter said the KKR event is likely to feature Kravis and other senior executives at the firm, including Ken Mehlman, who managed George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign, and Alexander Navab. Mehlman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bush has made direct personal appeals to former Wall Street supporters of 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, who recently said he would not seek the nomination again in 2016. People close to both Romney and Bush say the KKR event and several to follow closely after it will demonstrate that the vast bulk of Romney’s extensive financial network will move directly to Bush. One big remaining question is whether Bush will lock down the fundraising services of Romney confidant and investing partner Spencer Zwick.

Such a move would signal to many that Romney – who seemed cool to Bush in remarks upon deciding not to enter the race – had given his blessing to supporters to move to the former Florida governor.

Bush’s schedule in New York on Wednesday also includes a luncheon with former secretary of State Henry Kissinger, which was first reported by The New York Observer. The New York events follow a Bush super PAC fundraiser in Tallahassee, Florida that included several hundred of the state’s top donors and fundraisers. The event was also open to reporters, part of Bush’s effort to run a more transparent presidential campaign.

Marc Caputo contributed to this report. 

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) speaks to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs about his vision for domestic and foreign policy.

Jeb Bush discusses immigration on

Uncommon Knowledge


Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waves while being introduced on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015.

Jeb Bush Is His Own Man — And Most of His Competition — on Foreign Policy

The U.S. “no longer inspires fear in our enemies” says Jeb Bush, painting Obama as indecisive, but saying little about what he’d do differently.

Jeb Bush delivered the inevitable “I am my own man” line in his first major foreign policy speech as a pre-presidential candidate on Wednesday. But the former Florida governor did little to say exactly how he would lead the U.S. differently than his presidential father or brother. Perhaps more important, Bush’s stated foreign policy platform does little to differentiate himself from the rest of the GOP field of candidates, or President Barack Obama.

That could prove troublesome for the perceived front-runner in a campaign where national security and American leadership in global conflicts is expected to remain a central theme. While Bush repeated many of the Republican talking-point criticisms of Obama’s leadership as being too slow or soft from the Islamic State to Russia and Iran, what positions Bush did lay out – especially regarding military intervention in the Middle East – sounded nearly identical to what the Obama administration already is doing.

“For the record, one more time, I love my father and my brother,” Bush said Wednesday at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, speaking of his father, President George H.W. Bush, and elder brother, President George W. Bush. “But I am my own man — and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences.”

“Each president learns from those who came before — their principles, their adjustments,” Bush said. “One thing we know is this: Every president inherits a changing world, and changing circumstances.”

The foreign policy albatross of his father and brother’s presidencies — which no other candidate has to manage like he does — has dogged Bush’s soon-to-be 2016 campaign. “My views will often be held up in comparison to theirs — and a great fascinating thing in the political world, for some reason, sometimes in contrast to theirs,” Bush quipped Wednesday. But despite that scoff at political press, Bush, in name and substance, remains in the shadow of both his brother’s unpopular foreign policies – particularly the Iraq War — and also his father’s legacy, now nearly 20-years past, including his leadership through the Persian Gulf War.

The Bush wars weigh heavy on the early momentum of Jeb Bush’s candidacy, threatening to undermine an impressive fundraising haul and campaign infrastructure that already froze out his biggest challenge for the nomination, Mitt Romney. As an illustration, Bush’s infrastructure includes a list of 21 advisors — 19 of which served in either his father’s or brother’s administration.

And now the U.S. is more than six months deep into what is promised to be a years-long war in the Middle East, to be inherited by whoever follows Obama into the White House. The war against the Islamic State, or ISIS, and the debate over presidential powers to wage perpetual war in the new age of terrorism present Bush an immediate and important test to explain how he’d do things differently. But he indicated in his wide-ranging address that his response to the rise of the Islamic State wouldn’t differ dramatically from the talking points being trotted out by a full field of GOP presidential contenders. His positions sounded familiar to those employed by Republicans in the last two elections against Obama, in which they relied on a retread of generic “stronger on defense” rhetoric but struggled to distinguish their policies from the Democrat’s.

Tighten the noose, then take them out.
Jeb Bush on the Islamic State

Bush’s answer for how to deal with the Islamic State: “tighten the noose, then take them out,” sounded similar to the current “degrade and destroy” strategy of the Obama administration. “We need to create a coalition led by the United States but in total concert with the neighborhood,” he said. “There’s an attitude in the neighborhood that we’re gonna cut and run. This is a huge challenge for the president. Part of it is his own making, part of it is these trends that have existed for a long while.”

But Bush made sure to repeatedly use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” as conservatives have been demanding for weeks. “The more we try and ignore that reality, the less likely it is that we’re going to develop an effective strategy.”

On Iraq, Bush portrayed his brother’s war as a success later undone by Obama. “There were mistakes made in Iraq for sure,” he said, but called the 2006 surge “one of the most heroic acts of courage politically than any president has done.”

“It created a stability that, when the new president came in, [Obama] could’ve built on…. That void has been filled because we created the void.”

There were mistakes made in Iraq for sure.
Jeb Bush

As other potential GOP candidates already have done, Bush called for the U.S. to show greater strength on the global stage. “Everywhere you look you see the world slipping out of control,” Bush said. “The examples keep piling up — President Obama called ISIS the junior varsity four days after they took Fallujah,” Bush said. “He dismissed Russia as merely a regional power.”

“Under this administration, we are inconsistent and indecisive. We have lost the trust and the confidence of our friends. We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies.”

On Israel, Bush repeatedly argued that administration officials have fractured the U.S. relationship with Israel through contention with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. He called Iran “the defining foreign policy challenge of our time,” and criticized what he called a policy shift in the current nuclear talks to manage the problem, not solve it.

“The great irony of the Obama presidency is this,” he said. “Someone who came to office promising greater engagement with the world has left America less influential in the world.”

“Our words and actions must match so the entire world knows we say what we mean and mean what we say, there should be no gap there,” Bush said. The Obama administration, he said, “draw red lines, then erase them. With grandiosity, they announce resets and disengage. Hashtag campaigns replace actual diplomacy and engagement.”

The great irony of the Obama presidency is this: Someone who came to office promising greater engagement with the world has left America less influential in the world.
Jeb Bush

What Bush called grandiose “resets” and “hashtag campaigns” was a swipe at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure in the administration.

On defense spending, Bush also sounded like past failed Republican candidates when he said current levels were “dangerous” because they represented “only” 2 percent of GDP – a metric heard in previous presidential campaigns that is rarely used in defense industry circles and frequently derided by budget watchdog groups for not reflecting actual U.S. firepower.

“I believe, fundamentally, that weakness invites war … and strength encourages peace,” Bush said. “America does not have the luxury of withdrawing from the world  … we have no reason to apologize for our leadership, and our interest in serving the cause of global security, global peace and human freedom.”

Getty Images

To answer questions on how his foreign policy would be different from that of his father and brother, Jeb Bush turned instead to attacking the office’s current inhabitant, President Obama. 

The former Florida governor laid out his own national security vision in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on Wednesday, assailing Obama for what he said were failures on more than a half-dozen foreign policy fronts.

Bush didn’t mince words against the president, calling him “feckless,” “inconsistent and indecisive,” and slamming him for a “lack of engagement” on Cuba, Israel, Iran, Russia and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. 

“We have lost the trust and confidence of our friends,” Bush said. “The greatest irony of the Obama presidency is that someone who came into office promising greater engagement with the world left the nation less influential in the world.

“Our words and actions must match so that the entire world knows that we say what we mean and mean what we say,” he continued. “This administration talks big but their words fade, they draw red lines and then erase them … their hash-tag campaigns replace actual engagement.”

The Obama administration is more focused on “attempting to win the news cycle” than on the “long-term interests of America,” Bush said.

Bush called Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons the “defining foreign policy issue of our time” and “an existential threat to Israel and to the world, including the United States.” 

Bush said that when Obama came into office there was bipartisan consensus that Iran’s nuclear programs had to be stopped at all costs, but that the Obama administration is now “seeking merely to regulate” Iran’s progress towards a nuke.

The former Florida governor also accused Obama of not taking non-state terror groups like ISIS seriously, and of dismissing Russia as a regional power. 

He bashed Obama for seeking to normalize relations with Cuba, saying the administration got nothing in return from negotiating with the communist country and that the outcome would empower the Castro regime with additional financial resources.

On Israel, Bush accused the president of “lobbing leaks and insults” against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said he was baffled that the White House wouldn’t eagerly welcome Netanyahu for a speech on Capitol Hill next month.

Some Democrats are boycotting the speech because Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) arranged it without the White House’s knowledge. The address has been viewed by some as a move by Netanyahu to meddle in U.S. politics and boost his own reelection just after his speech here. 

Bush said he has visited Israel five times and that one of his greatest achievements was signing a trade agreement with former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Also on Wednesday, Bush laid out six principles he said would drive his views on foreign policy. At the top of the list is economic growth at home, which he said would make the U.S. a “force for peace and security.”

Another of Bush’s principles is to recommit financial resources to the military, which he said has been gutted by the sequester and budget cuts.

“Our military is not a discretionary expense,” Bush said. “I believe fundamentally that weakness invites war, while strength encourages peace.”

Bush also said U.S. foreign policy must match in word and deed, that the nation must remain engaged through key regional alliances, that taking out ISIS and other terror groups must become a top priority, and that the U.S. must seek to expand democracy and capitalism in countries that haven’t adopted those principles.

Bush made news earlier in the day when his leadership PAC leaked excerpts from his speech in which he said he’d be his “own man,” a response to critics who have sought to tie him to the controversial policies of his brother, former President George W. Bush, and father, former President George H.W. Bush. 

"I also have been fortunate to have a father and a brother who both have shaped America’s foreign policy from the Oval Office," Bush said in his speech. 

"I recognize that as a result, my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs — sometimes in contrast to theirs," he added. "I love my father and my brother … I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make. But I am my own man — and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences.”

"Each president learns from those who came before — their principles ... their adjustments," he added. "One thing we know is this: Every president inherits a changing world and changing circumstances."

Bush said Friday that he will not “re-litigate” controversial decisions that were made by his brother but acknowledged on Wednesday that “there were mistakes made in Iraq for sure.”

He cited the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and said the U.S. did not create “an environment of security” after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Still, he called the surge “one of the most heroic acts” of any president and said President Obama failed to build on it.

Bush said Obama “created the void” whereby non-state sponsored terror groups have been allowed to flourish.

Democrats are already linking Bush to his older brother on foreign policy. 

Democratic National Committee communications director Mo Elleithee pushed out a memo on Wednesday arguing that Bush is standing by his brother’s decision to invade Iraq.

“No American has forgotten when Jeb’s brother, George W. Bush, led us into the Iraq War based on bad information, and pursued this entanglement even as it took important resources away from the hunt for al Qaeda in Afghanistan,” he wrote. “And now, more than a decade after the start of the war — even with the benefit of hindsight — Jeb Bush is one of the few people left who still stands by the decision to rush into Iraq.”

Bush could be giving his detractors added political ammunition through his choice of advisers. He is enlisting more than two dozen former aides to his brother and father as he prepares for a likely 2016 presidential run.

Those advisers include Paul Wolfowitz, a former World Bank president who was an architect of the second Iraq War while serving at the Pentagon; Stephen Hadley, a former national security adviser to President George W. Bush; and Meghan O'Sullivan, another Bush aide on Iraq.

 Awash in cash, Bush asks donors not to give more than $1 million – for now

An unusual request has gone out to wealthy donors writing large checks to support former Florida governor Jeb Bush: Please don’t give more than $1 million right away.

The requested limit, confirmed by multiple people familiar with the amount, may mark the first time that a presidential hopeful has sought to hold off supporters from contributing too much money.

The move reflects concerns among Bush advisers that accepting massive sums from a handful of uber-rich supporters could fuel a perception that the former governor is in their debt. The effort is also driven by a desire to build as broad a pool of donors as possible among wealthier contributors. So even as Bush (R) is headlining a series of high-dollar events for a super PAC backing his bid, fundraisers have been instructed not to ask donors to give more than $1 million per person this quarter.

“This campaign is about much more than money,” said Howard Leach, a veteran Republican fundraiser who recently co-hosted a finance event for Bush in Palm Beach, Fla., and confirmed the limit. “They need substantial funds, but they don’t want the focus to be on money.”

Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell declined to comment.

The perceived need to put limits in place for contributions, even if only for a few months, underscores the extraordinary role that elite financiers play in political fundraising, which increasingly centers on super PACs able to collect unlimited sums from individuals and corporations. The move reflects the sensitive challenge facing candidates who want to tap into those resources­ without relinquishing their claims of independence.

Bush has yet to officially declare his candidacy, but he is already on track to raise tens of millions of dollars by the end of this month for two political action committees, both named Right to Rise, that were set up in January. His potential rivals have acknowledged that they have little hope of matching his pace.

Pro-Bush fundraisers have been encouraged to stick to the $1 million-per-donor limit for the first 100 days. Of course, many donors who give large amounts now are likely to be repeat givers — and write even larger checks — once the campaign starts in earnest.

Bush is entering his third month of an intensive, cross-country fundraising tour that has included stops at lavish Manhattan apartments, premier Washington lobbying shops and luxury hotels in Florida.

During a stop in Las Vegas this week, Bush had a private meeting with casino mogul Steve Wynn. On Tuesday, he headlined an evening reception for the Right to Rise super PAC at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort, just outside Scottsdale, Ariz. Among the fundraiser’s co-hosts was former vice president Dan Quayle.

Amid the nonstop drive for money, Bush advisers are cautioning fundraisers in conference calls and in-person discussions not to allow a few mega-donors to overwhelm the effort.

“It shows they are disciplined and appreciate that the dominance of a few key people early on is not a productive thing for the campaign or for Jeb Bush,” said Rick Hohlt, a longtime Republican fundraiser in Washington who is familiar with the guidance.

Such a dynamic dogged the 2012 campaign of former House speaker Newt Gingrich, whose bid for the Republican nomination was lifted by a super PAC financed with $15 million from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his family. When former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania ran, his super PAC benefactor was investor Foster Friess.

Bush is tapping into a much wider pool of wealthy donors. Dozens of backers have given $100,000 each to get into high-end super PAC fundraisers, such as one last month at the Park Avenue home of private-equity titan Henry Kravis.

And some are offering substantially more than that.

Leach — who served as ambassador to France during the administration of George W. Bush — said he knows of “numerous” people across the country who have already given $1 million.

“They didn’t need to be persuaded,” he said. “The reason people are willing to write checks like that is because they feel this election is so important to the future of this country.”

Among those donating large amounts, Leach said, are Democrats disenchanted with former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is nearing her own bid for the 2016 presidential race.

The eagerness among political financiers to support Jeb Bush is evident in the high goals his team has laid out for donors and fundraisers to reach by March 31, with tiers set at $50,000, $100,000, $250,000 and $500,000, according to people involved in collecting checks.

Bush’s rapid fundraising clip puts his super PAC on pace to far outstrip Restore Our Future, a super PAC that backed 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and raised $12 million in its first six months.

In the coming weeks, Bush is scheduled to headline additional fundraisers in Denver; Sea Island, Ga.; Boca Raton, Fla.; and Atlanta. There, the cost of co-hosting a one-hour breakfast at the city’s elite Capital City Club has been set at $25,000 a person.


Jeb Bush Skips CPAC Speech in Favor of Q&A With Sean Hannity

In a calculated bid to make his case as the GOP's next presidential nominee, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush faces a grilling from Fox News host Sean Hannity at the Conservative Political Action Conference this week.

Bush has opted to field tough questions from Hannity at CPAC rather than taking his chances with the traditional speech in front of a potentially hostile audience at the annual forum, as he gambles that it will give him a better shot at explaining his views on conservative issues, according to Politico.

"His brand of moderate conservatism is an awkward fit with CPAC's ideologically strident audience," wrote the website's Alex Isenstadt. "His political lineage is a sore spot for many attendees, particularly the younger and more libertarian-oriented."

Isenstadt added: "Then there's Bush immigration reform efforts and support for Common Core education standards: Both are deal-breakers."

Bush has angered conservatives with his support of immigration reform and the Common Core State Standards Initiative, both of which could hurt his presidential chances.

Grover Norquist, an anti-tax advocate who is set to speak at CPAC in Maryland's National Harbor, said, "he needs to talk in a way that shows he understands this is a different Republican Party. That's what I think his challenge is. Somehow he's got to show that he's up to speed."

Norquist was referring to the fact Bush has not served in public office since 2007, and therefore, unlike other possible Republican contenders for the 2016 nomination, cannot prove his "conservative credentials" with his recent political policies.

"It's more of a challenge to lay out an agenda because he's been out of office longer than others," said Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, a leading conservative group largely funded by the billionaire donors Charles and David Koch.

Bush will have a 20-minute question and answer session with Hannity, a prominent conservative who has interviewed Bush several times on his television show, Politico reported.

Al Cardenas, a Bush adviser and a former chairman of the American Conservative Union, the organization that sponsors CPAC, told the political news website that Bush planned to "speak from the heart," adding, "He chose a format purposely that allows all the audience to spend the most time with him."

Most other White House hopefuls, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, will give speeches lasting 14 minutes, followed by question-and- answer sessions of six minutes, Politico said.

"Bush's CPAC strategy isn't without risks," wrote Isenstadt. "In not giving a speech in a high-profile conservative arena, he is ceding the stage to other candidates whose addresses will be crafted for the purpose of exciting the CPAC faithful.

"Increasingly viewed as the front-runner thanks to his prolific fundraising and high name ID, Bush may even find himself under attack from his potential rivals.

"While his opponents are unlikely to call out the former governor by name, their advisers say, they plan to highlight their strident opposition to Common Core."

WASHINGTON - APRIL 19:  Florida Republican Governor Jeb Bush (R) speaks to the press on the war on terror as his brother U.S. President George W. Bush looks on April 19, 2006 at the White House in Washington, DC. Governor Bush along with Governors Mitch Daniels (R-IN), Governor Tom Vilsack (D-Iowa) and Governor Joe Manchin (D-WVA) have returned from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

 Jeb fundraiser gets special guest: George W.

Jeb Bush knows he pays a price for his last name, so he might as well fully collect on its benefits too.

On Wednesday, the former Florida governor, who stresses in public appearances that he is his “own man,” heads to Dallas for his first fundraiser of the year with George W. Bush.

Dealing with his brother, the 43rd president, is one of the most difficult needles Jeb must thread as he prepares for a formal launch of his own presidential campaign in the coming months.

Insiders say Jeb’s team is still figuring out how to utilize George W. For now, aides are happy to maximize the advantages, particularly when it comes to raising money, getting outside advice from old administration hands and leveraging the Bush mystique to establish him as the frontrunner.

“I think George will be as helpful as he can possibly be and will do everything he can,” said Jim Francis, a longtime George W. confidante who chaired his two Texas gubernatorial campaigns. “But he also doesn’t want to be a distraction. So they’ll talk about it and see what makes sense.”

“In some ways, George W. Bush may be helpful, and it some ways we might not be,” Francis added. “But, the bottom line is, Jeb is going to sink or swim on his own.”

The former president’s public image has been rehabilitated somewhat since he left office seven years ago. Polls consistently show that George W. is more liked than his brother among conservatives, but he remains deeply polarizing to the electorate at large.

One Bush 43 alum advises not to expect the former president “out there in public too much, certainly not early on.”

“Fundraising is where he could help the most,” the former official said. “Not that Jeb needs that much help with it, given how well he’s done so far.”

But many tricky decisions await the campaign-in-waiting. If Jeb is the nominee, for example, what role will George W. play at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next July? He skipped Tampa in 2012, but it would look awkward if he stayed away his own brother’s coronation. If he attends, would he get a speaking slot? Would it be in primetime?

Sources in both camps said that the former president’s role is likely to evolve over time, depending on how the primary field shakes out and what polls show.

“The fact that he’s so well-known is an asset,” said former South Carolina GOP chairman Barry Wynn, a longtime Bush family ally who supports Jeb. “But there are some people who don’t want to look to the past; they want to look to the future. So he has to cross that hurdle, and I think he will.”

For those who have worked at senior levels for either Bush, the relationship between the two brothers is a very sensitive issue – and one, in most instances, they’d rather not discuss publicly.

Historians have often described the relationship as competitive. “While loving and supportive of each other, the two brothers do not talk that often, according to family intimates,” Peter Baker, a biographer of George W., reported in January for the New York Times.

George, now 68, headed off to boarding school while Jeb, six years younger, was still a little kid. He’s always been closer to his brother Marvin and sister Doro.

George is an extrovert with swagger and a Texas twang. Jeb, 62, is a self-described “introvert” who likes to project thoughtful bookishness.

Both ran for governor in 1994. Jeb had long been seen as the son most likely to succeed in politics, according to lore. But he lost in Florida while George won an upset in Texas.

Jeb won the first of two terms in the Sunshine State in 1998. He went all-in to help his brother carry the state in 2000, including during the contentious recount.

George W. has put the ball in his brother’s court when it comes to how he’ll be deployed.

“I’ll do whatever he wants,” he told CBS in December. “If he wants me out there publicly, I’ll be out there publicly. If he wants me behind the scenes, I’ll be behind the scenes.”

For his part, Jeb is asked about his family at almost every stop on the campaign trail. He usually gives a variation of the same answer: he loves his brother, but he’s his own man. At the Detroit Economic Club last month, he acknowledged that running as a Bush presents “an interesting challenge.”

“If I have any degree of self-awareness, this would be the place where it might want to be applied,” he said. “I love my brother. I think he’s been a great president. It doesn’t bother me a bit to be proud of them and love them, but I know for a fact that if I’m going to be successful … then I’m going to have to do it on my own.”

Other times, Jeb has pushed back forcefully on efforts to put him on the couch. “As in everybody’s family, we’re all a little different,” Jeb Bush said in Nevada earlier this month. “I have my own life experience.”

When someone in the Las Vegas audience asked how he’d separate himself from his father and brother, Jeb said it would be through the power of his fresh ideas. “Do you have brothers and sisters?” he asked the questioner. “Are you exactly the same?”

Wednesday’s Dallas fundraiser is at the home of financial services executive Gerald J. Ford, who paid $20 million for the stadium at Southern Methodist University to bear his name. SMU is Laura Bush’s alma mater and the site of George W.’s presidential library. There will be a roundtable discussion and a VIP reception. The invitation asked for personal donations or commitments to bundle $100,000 per couple; proceeds benefit Right to Rise, Jeb’s super PAC.

This is the final full week before the end of the first fundraising quarter.

The invitation for the Wednesday event includes 50 co-hosts. The Dallas Morning News, which first reported that George W. will be the special guest, said the list includes many pillars of the party establishment in Texas, including real estate developer Woody Hunt, oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, former Commerce Secretary Don Evans, former ambassador to Switzerland Pam Willeford, homebuilder David Weekley, beer distributor John Nau and former Rep. Tom Loeffler.

The significant show of force comes just days after the state’s junior senator, Ted Cruz, became the first major candidate to formally enter the race. Cruz worked on W.’s 2000 presidential campaign in a junior role.

Rick Perry, preparing for another try at the White House, was Bush’s lieutenant governor but has fallen out with the family over the years, especially after he criticized W’s record as president. George H.W. Bush even endorsed then-Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in her failed 2010 primary challenge to Perry. Hutchison is listed as a host for Wednesday’s fundraiser. Nau, Weekley and others on the host committee were previously major Perry donors, the Morning News noted.

Jeb, of course, has his own roots in Texas. He was born in Midland and went to college in Austin. His 38-year-old son, George P., was elected Texas land commissioner in November. But none of this compares to the network that George W. grew and cultivated during his ascent to the pinnacle of power.

Al Cardenas, a longtime political associate and Florida friend of Jeb’s, said that the governor is delighted that his father, brother and son are helping out. But he suggested that many of these donors would back Jeb regardless of whether George W. showed up to the fundraiser or not.

Cardenas said it is still “very cool” for the governor to spend time with family on the short trip. “I mean it doesn’t get much better than that from a purely personal point of view,” he said. “Pride in his son’s own accomplishments; seeing the glow in his dad’s eyes as he undertakes the challenge; and hanging out with his older brother is unforgettable and precious for Jeb.”

“So, yes, very fulfilling personally,” he added. “I am not too sure you can describe it as a politically significant factor.”

George W. has kept a relatively low profile on the campaign finance circuit since leaving office. He has not lent his name to many political events. Part of that has been to help establish an image as an above-the-fray statesman; he’s carefully avoided criticizing President Barack Obama. But associates say another consideration has been fundraising for his foundation and library, which opened two years ago in Dallas. The ex-president was reluctant to cannibalize his own donor network or hit up his biggest supporters too much to help non-Bush candidates. Now that these entities are humming along, he has more bandwidth.

George W. could also potentially help woo the Republican grassroots, pollsters agree, but he remains a liability in a general election.

A Quinnipiac University poll last month of likely Iowa caucus-goers found Jeb viewed favorably by 41 percent and unfavorably by 40 percent. Yet 80 percent viewed George W.’s presidency favorably.

The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal survey found that 35 percent of Americans overall view him positively, while 39 percent see him negatively. That’s down from 58 percent who viewed him negatively in January 2009.

But there were some ominous numbers in Quinnipiac polls of swing states conducted last month. More than one-third of registered voters in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia said the Bush name makes them less likely to support Jeb.

“Many voters don’t like him coming from a family of presidents,” pollster Peter Brown said as he released the numbers.

Iraq and Afghanistan, which both continue to be in the news, are key elements of George W.’s legacy. Jeb rolled out a list of nearly two dozen foreign policy advisers last month that included a mix of key players in his brother and father’s administrations, leading to speculation about whether he is more of a clear-eyed realist like his father, or a democracy-promoting idealist like his brother, when it comes to the U.S. mission overseas.

Jeb has tried to chart his own course here as well. Asked in January how he would have handled Iraq differently, Bush told reporters: “I won’t talk about the past; I’ll talk about the future.”

A few weeks later, it was clear his team recognized they had to deal with the elephant in the room. “There were mistakes made in Iraq, for sure,” Jeb said in Chicago, lamenting intelligence that turned out ”not to be accurate” and saying that more should have been to create “an environment of security” after Saddam Hussein was deposed.

But in the same speech, Jeb praised his brother’s controversial 2007 “surge” of troops into the country – describing it as one of ”the most heroic acts of courage politically that any president’s done because there was no support for it, and it was hugely successful.”

Aside from George W., other members of the family have also gotten fully on board. Barbara Bush, who famously said in 2013 that “we’ve had enough Bushes” in the Oval Office, has now publicly taken it back. She signed a fundraising email for her son last week.

On Thursday night, she and George H.W. Bush will appear at a Jeb fundraiser in Houston. The elder Bush, now 90 and prevented from walking due to health issues, has become an increasingly beloved figure in the 22 years since leaving the presidency.

Asked what role the family will play in 2016, Jeb spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said: “Governor Bush is really thankful for the tremendous support of his dad, his brother and his entire family as he considers whether or not go forward with a potential campaign.”

Jeb Bush is shown. | AP Photo

Jeb Bush, anti-drilling crusader

For years before “drill, baby, drill” became a Republican rallying cry, Jeb Bush was one of Florida’s staunchest opponents of offshore drilling.

As the governor of the tourist mecca, Bush fought to maintain Florida’s status as the only Gulf Coast state with no offshore oil and gas production — opposing even the administration of his brother, President George W. Bush, when it sought to open new waters to drilling. The governor and his administration boasted of being Florida’s firewall against the rigs, citing it as one of his top environmental accomplishments and taunting both Al Gore and John Kerry for being wobbly on the issue

Nowadays, the GOP presidential prospect sounds largely in lockstep with his party’s support for fossil fuels: He favors building the Keystone XL oil pipeline, for example, and has drawn media attention as an advocate of fracking. The son and brother of former Texas oilmen never opposed drilling outside Florida, and he would have little trouble winning the industry’s support if he becomes the Republican nominee.

Still, Bush’s opposition to oil and gas drilling in his backyard was outspoken and adamant — at least until he started making compromises with federal lawmakers late in his term. That makes him something of an outlier in a party that has grown increasingly vocal about drilling on public lands since he left office in 2007, and it offers yet another potential wedge for rivals who want to challenge his conservative credentials, alongside his championing of the Common Core education standards and his description of illegal immigration as an “an act of love.” Even a largely glowing column about Bush on the conservative website Newsmax cited drilling as a reason to question his “ideological bona fides.”

Bush’s camp says his stance on the issue is beyond question.

“Governor Bush supports expanding domestic energy production,” Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said in a statement to POLITICO. “As governor he worked to strike a balance between our nation’s energy needs and the economic and environmental interests of Florida. He believes states should have a role in decisions that impact their coastline. Expanding domestic energy production is key to ensuring America’s energy security.”

People in the oil industry seem willing to give him a pass for his role in barring them from tapping the vast, potentially lucrative resources in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. “Florida politicians are always a little bit squirrely about this,” one oil industry insider said in an interview.

Former Sen. Bennett Johnston (D-La.), a vocal supporter of offshore oil development, said Bush’s anti-drilling past shouldn’t pose a problem if he runs for president.

“Drilling off Florida has always been very unpopular,” said Johnston, now a lobbyist in Washington. “I really don’t think the energy industry is going to worry about him being not supportive of them.”

Former Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), who was himself a vocal critic of efforts to drill in the state’s waters, said it’s possible to be skeptical about Florida drilling while supporting it off the coasts of states like Virginia, where oil exploration has more political support. “I think you can be for offshore drilling, just not off the coast of Florida,” he said.

Indeed, opposing drilling was good politics in a state where tourism is the No. 1 industry, and where many coastal residents are aghast at any prospect of tar balls or oil slicks fouling their sugary, white-sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico.

For the longest time, that was an almost-mandatory stance for anyone seeking elected office in the state, although the across-the-board opposition began to fray after gasoline prices topped $4 a gallon in the summer of 2008. Today, both Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott and GOP Sen. Marco Rubio have said they’re open to offshore drilling if adequate safety measures are in place.

“At that time and place, I don’t think there was anybody speaking for oil drilling in Florida except for the people speaking for the oil industry. I mean nobody,” said Allison DeFoor, who served as Bush’s Everglades czar during the governor’s first term. “Florida folks know where their bread is buttered. Everybody makes a living off the coasts.”

But Bush’s anti-drilling stance was also a point of personal pride, something he continually brought up in correspondence with people questioning his environmental record.

In one March 2000 email, he listed “maintaining Florida’s position against offshore drilling” as No. 2 on his roster of environmental accomplishments, ahead of even his multibillion-dollar efforts to restore the Everglades. In September 2001, he wrote: “I have stated my opposition over and over and over again. I will continue to do so.”

Four years later, responding to someone who mentioned that “the Bush family is noted for support of the petroleum industry,” the governor responded: “do you mean the bush that has opposed offshore drilling stronger than my predecessors and has proposed large investments in alternative energy?”

He made it clear at the time that his opposition didn’t extend to areas elsewhere in the country that the oil industry was seeking to open up, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

“The folks in Alaska want drilling for Anwr,” Bush said in a 2002 email. “The folks in Florida don’t want offshore drilling. that is a big difference.”

That stance had some family history behind it: The governor’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, is an avid outdoorsman who has gone on fishing vacations in Florida, and who ruled much of the state off-limits to drilling in 1990 for at least 10 years. That went against the Reagan administration’s efforts to vastly expand offshore drilling as a matter of national security. (Bush’s Interior Department later proposed allowing oil and gas exploration off the Florida Panhandle, however.)

To hear the governor talk about it, not even Gore and Kerry, two Democrats with seemingly solid green credentials, were reliable allies for Florida on the issue.

In 1999, for example, Vice President Gore — who was mounting his own presidential run — initially declined to speak out against Chevron’s application for approval to drill near Pensacola, with an aide saying it “wouldn’t be appropriate for the White House to be weighing in” on a matter that the Commerce Department was still considering. Although Gore came out against the proposal a month later, Bush environmental secretary David Struhs said his initial silence was “not exactly a profile in leadership.”

Five years later, Bush personally jumped on a campaign-trail remark by Kerry in which the Democratic presidential hopeful, speaking in Tampa, noted that “the largest unexplored oil field in the world is actually the deepwater oil out in the Gulf.” While Kerry’s campaign denied he was advocating drilling off the state, Bush denounced “Kerry’s insistence on offshore drilling in Florida,” adding that “there is probably 10 percent of the people of this state that would support a candidate for higher office that believes what John Kerry believes.”

But Bush’s most high-profile drilling struggle pitted hiagainst the George W. Bush administration, which proposed in 2001 to open up a 6-million-acre swath of the Gulf that would come as close as 30 miles to Pensacola. The governor told the St. Petersburg Times —which portrayed the battle as “Bush vs. Bush” — that he had argued to Vice President Dick Cheney that the plan posed a “threat to larger economic interests and our environment.” But he told the newspaper he couldn’t expect special treatment from Washington, even though the president was “my bro.”

Bush persuaded the Interior Department to shrink the area at risk by about 75 percent, which the agency said would keep any drilling at least 100 miles from Florida’s shores. Later, in the midst of the governor’s 2002 reelection campaign, the Bush brothers announced a deal in which the federal government would spend $115 million to buy out three oil companies’ offshore leases near the Panhandle.

“It just did not seem right that 25 miles off the coast there might be drilling. Today, that possibility doesn’t exist,” Jeb Bush told reporters outside the White House at the time.

Colleen Castille, who served as Florida’s environmental secretary during Bush’s second term, called the former governor an independent thinker who will “not necessarily be persuaded by familial relations.” She said he tried to take a balanced approach to oil and gas development but also feels a strong connection to Florida’s environment. For example, she said, “the man has just this absurd love for manatees” — citing an aquatic creature that Bush once called “my favorite mammal.”

But in 2005, he angered environmentalists by backing a bill in Congress to allow drilling in some of the same areas he had fought to keep off limits in 2001, in exchange for creating a 125-mile buffer zone around the state where drilling would be blocked. At the time, Bush argued that the bill offered the most realistic plan to protect Florida’s coast — telling one newspaper that “I’ve opted to be engaged to try to protect Florida’s coastline rather than be politically correct.”

Florida environmentalists still aren’t happy about it. “Our view really is that he can’t be trusted on the issue,” said Erin Handy, a Florida-based staffer for the environmental group Oceana.

His position shifted even further by July 2008, when gasoline prices hit an all-time high. That month, he told a newspaper in the Florida Keys that “had I known that

gas was going to be $4.30 per gallon, as I stated, I would have supported a lifting of the [drilling] moratorium with proper safeguards.”

Since then, he has mostly spoken in broad terms about achieving U.S. energy independence.

During a 2013 speech, he called for opening up “federal lands and water for drilling in a thoughtful way.” And in an appearance last month at the Detroit Economic Club, he touted the potential of the U.S. energy boom that has upended markets in the past six years, saying that “in the oil and gas fields once given up for dry, we’re now assuring America’s energy security.”

“We have the chance — if we can create an energy policy based on American innovation and North American resources, Canada, Mexico and the United States — to create the lowest cost energy source in the world over the longest period of time, to help consumers with their disposable income and to help reindustrialize the country,” Bush said during the February address. “We have a chance to lead the world.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Feb. 27, 2015 at Gaylord National Harbor in National Harbor, MD. (M. Scott Mahaskey/Politico)

The Goldman Sachs primary

NEW YORK — Forget the Democratic and Republican primaries: The two biggest names in the 2016 presidential race are competing directly against each other in an elite forum, the halls of Goldman Sachs.

Jeb Bush will be back in New York raising money next week with his sights set on Goldman, the wealthiest and most successful bank in Wall Street history. He has a pair of events scheduled for next Wednesday with current and former Goldman executives, sources familiar with Bush’s plans said.

 The events signal that Bush hopes to go head to head for Goldman money and support with Hillary Clinton, who also has strong ties to the bank and is expected to raise large sums from its executives to help fund her likely presidential campaign. And it means employees of the nation’s richest investment bank are increasingly putting their money on the two best-known candidates, both of whom are viewed across Wall Street as centrists who could cool some of the scorching anti-banker rhetoric and policies emanating from the Elizabeth Warren wing on the left and the tea party movement on the right.

 “Goldman likes to play both sides of the fence and that’s especially true of a race like this where either of these two candidates — Bush and Clinton — could ultimately be helpful to them,” said Charles Geisst, a Wall Street historian at Manhattan College.

In addition to at least achieving parity with Clinton in the Wall Street money race, Bush is looking to muscle out other GOP candidates for financial services industry cash, especially New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. So far, Bush has succeeded in this effort on his way to what supporters hope will be a war chest as large as $100 million by the end of the first quarter for Bush’s Right to Rise political action committees. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker draws significant interest from Wall Street. But the other potential GOP candidates including Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, whose wife works at Goldman, have drawn much less support.

Analysts say Goldman is hoping that either Clinton or Bush could help restore the reputation of an industry badly tattered by the financial crisis while pushing back against big tax hikes on capital gains and more stringent regulation of the financial industry. Both candidates are also viewed as defenders of the Federal Reserve, which has come under heavy criticism from both the far left and far right.

 “The key for Goldman is to have its bets hedged both in its businesses and in politics,” said William Cohan, a journalist and former banker who wrote a history of Goldman. “And you can’t get any better for them than Jeb and Hillary, it’s a dream come true, they would win either way.”

Bush’s first Goldman event next Wednesday will take place at the Ritz Carlton and is being organized by Dina Powell, who heads the Goldman Sachs Foundation and served in the White House under George W. Bush. Other organizers include John Waldron, co-head of investment banking, Alison Mass, a senior investment banker, and Faryar Shirzad, a Goldman executive in Washington who also served in the George W. Bush administration.

The $5,000 per head event is expected to include younger Goldman executives. The bank has a rule that executives are not allowed to solicit political donations from anyone junior to them. So the invitation for the affair includes a couple of mid- to lower-level bankers who can hit up their bosses for checks for Bush’s political action committees.

The former Florida governor will rake in much larger checks of $50,000 per head later in the evening at a more exclusive affair organized by Jim Donovan, a senior Goldman executive who was a key fundraiser and adviser for Mitt Romney and is now playing the same role for Bush. It will also feature John Thain, a former Goldman president who went on to serve as CEO of the New York Stock Exchange and now heads middle-market lender CIT. Other organizers include Scott Kapnick, a former co-head of investment banking at Goldman who is now chief executive of Highbridge Capital along with Ed Forst, a former co-head of Goldman’s investment management division and now president and CEO of Cushman & Wakefield. Muneer Satter, a former Goldman executive who was a co-chair of Romney’s finance committee in 2012, is another organizer.

A Goldman Sachs spokesman declined comment. Spokespeople for both Bush and Clinton did not return emails for comment.

The battle for the hearts and wallets of Goldman Sachs titans goes right to the top. Goldman chief executive Lloyd Blankfein is close to Clinton and has held fundraisers for her. The former first lady, New York senator and secretary of state gave a well-paid speech to Goldman executives in 2013. She and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, have both raised huge sums from Goldman and all across Wall Street for their campaigns and charitable foundation. But Blankfein has also made warm comments about some in the Republican field including Bush. Blankfein has indicated he would be fine with either a Bush or Clinton presidency.

Goldman employees, along with the rest of Wall Street, steered much of their cash to then-Senator Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential cycle, helping him raise $16 million. But they abandoned Obama for favorite son Mitt Romney in 2012. Clinton is expected to draw Wall Street cash back to the Democratic Party in 2016. And Bush is moving early to make sure the former first lady does not establish any kind of dominance in the financial sector.

 Executives at Goldman and other Wall Street banks are even more vital in 2016 because they can write giant checks to so-called super PACs backing individual candidates. And as long as Bush is not an announced candidate he can personally attend super PAC events like the one hosted by Kapnick. Once Bush is officially in the race, he will no longer be able to coordinate with his super PAC.

Campaign finance experts say Goldman is hoping another President Bush or President Clinton would both push for Wall Street-friendly policies and draw on Goldman’s executive ranks for expertise, a practice that has fallen out of favor in the years following the financial crisis.

“Goldman is a behemoth that invests in everything and advises every industry and what it wants is literally everything,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. “It’s concerned about tax reform, Dodd-Frank implementation, energy and nuclear power and everything else. It will be interesting to see who wins this Goldman Sachs sweepstakes because it is such an influential player.”


 Bush would overturn Obama's executive actions on immigration

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) said that he would overturn President Obama’s controversial executive actions on immigration.

In an interview Tuesday, he said federal courts might strike down Obama’s actions giving millions of immigrants legal status — but if they did not he said he would act.

 “Yes I would, it’s possible that by the time the next president arrives the court will overturn those,” Bush said of Obama’s executive actions from 2012 and 2014. He made the comments on the Michael Medved Show.

“This concept of prosecutorial discretion, which is what he’s used as the basis for these executive orders, is to look at cases on a case by case basis. He’s had millions of people basically by the stroke of a pen being given temporary status.”

Bush said that the right way to fix the nation’s immigration problems is through legislation.

A group of 26 states have sued the president, claiming that his immigration actions in 2014 are unconstitutional.

A federal judge has already temporarily blocked the program, which would allow certain illegal immigrants to stay in the country and work.

Bush said that he’d undue a slew of Obama’s executive orders his first week in office.

His tough talk comes as he faces criticism from the GOP base that he’s not tough enough on immigration.

Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), another GOP candidate for president, both favor a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally, something many conservatives regard as “amnesty.”